Monday, March 16, 2009

Substantiate Your Case

If you're having race-related issues on the job, one of the main things you need to focus on is establishing corroboration of the events you are alleging are taking place on your job. What does that mean?

It means that you want to avoid a he said/she said incident on your job. You want to start identifying witnesses and collecting evidence.

Identify witnesses!

Who heard or saw an incident that you are complaining about?
Who did you report abusive behavior or harassment to?
Who did you share stories of your abuse with?

Provide supporting documentation and physical evidence!

Obtain written evidence, charts, instructions, etc. that support/corroborate your versions of events. Evidence might include timesheets, organizational or departmental charts, writtten instructions, offensive or harassing emails, malicious performance evaluations, written documentation falsely accusing you of work-related, behavioral or personality deficiencies, written statements from witnesses, etc.

-- Label your evidence in order to make sure that a 3rd party understands the relevance of each item being submitted as proof of workplace abuses!

You can’t assume that someone will look through your evidence and draw all of the proper and important conclusions that you feel support your case. Therefore, it’s important to label your evidence in way that will allow an investigator or lawyer to quickly understand why you have included each piece of evidence in your case file. An effective way to do this is to create labels that you can attach to the front or back of each item, which provides a description of the significance of the evidence.

You can label each piece of evidence with a brief statement about the relevance of the item and why the documentation is important. I recommend typing up an explanation of your evidence using the label making function of your computer software program. Then, simply print the information on a peel and stick label that can physically be attached to the front or back of your evidence.

Large shipping labels provide a substantial amount of space to make your notations. Be sure to include your name, case number (if you’ve been assigned one), and to number/catalogue each item being presented, in case your evidence becomes separated from your overall complaint.

As much as possible, include your evidence in chronological/date order, unless you feel there is another way of compiling your evidence that makes more sense. For example, you may decide that you want to group emails together, memos and other documentation in another section, etc. If your evidence is broken into sections, label your evidence appropriately.

For example, Item #1, Section A – Harassing and Offensive Emails or Item #1, Section B – Threats to My Job Security, Item #1, Section C – Tangible Employment Actions (Proof of Demotion Without Basis, Proof of Being Denied a Promotion for Discriminatory Motives, etc. ). Always include the impact/relevance of the evidence on the label.

Remember, your credibility is being judged. You have to prove your case. In order to do that you must submit facts/evidence and you must show that any arguments presented by your employer are untrue, misleading or irrelevant to the issues you encountered at work.


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